I posted this a year ago asking about which route to take from South Florida to the Keys and ended up going gulf side from Flamingo. Thinking about leaving from Miami, maybe Virginia Key, this year and doing it all on the outside. Will be doing it mid-march. Anyone done this route that time of year? I really enjoyed the Gulfside trip last spring so may do it again but my crew mate wants to try the other side. Doing it in on my Gcat 5.7,
Great topic for conversation. A bucket list sail as far as beach cat plans go. Question are the opportunities to cross from one side to the other few and far from in between? Even with 50nm crossing from bridge to bridge couldn't you play it by ear given the forecast?
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The route for the miami-key largo race brings you under the Jewfish Creek bridge, which is the first opportunity to get the bayside. It can be difficult sailing though the mangrove creeks in the upper keys as they can be sinuous, the wind sheltered by the mangroves, and passing powerboaters inconsiderate. The next option is Snake Creek, about 20 miles south. IIRC correctly the drawbridge height is right around 25-30, so going through without an opening is questionable. It opens on the hour during peak hours and half-hour after a certain time. 15 miles further south than that is channel 5, a tall fixed bridge. I don't know much about south of there, but it seems to open up, while north of there the bayside is more sheltered, with lots of keys and banks to provide windbreaks (or places to run aground). On the oceanside there isn't much to run aground on except the coral reef!
I haven't done it but I was nearby when others did! Back when the Tybee 500 was running some of the competitors sailed their boats from Key Biscayne to Islamorada for the start of the race because their boat was stored in Key Biscayne. They had no problem but of course that is all weather related, be careful big storms can come up quick and there aren't a lot of "bail out" landings along the way. The Keys don't have "beaches" they have shoreline, which is rocks, breakwaters, or trees for the most part.
The "inside route" is basically the path of the Miami - Key Largo race.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure and come back and tell us about it, with pictures!
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Wow that sounds like fun! I sail regularly out of Virginia Key, and sail down the keys (not always on a cat) once or twice a year. I have good intelligence on the overall passage, at least the first half.
My email addr is first.last @ gmail. Drop me a line, and we can launch together and would love to run the first stretch with you. I can also facilitate access to an alternative launching spot. We have an active fleet (CABB), you might get more takers.
In terms of the route and your cat
- Sail out of KB channel, and sail South all the way to the top of Key Largo, with many opportunities to cross to the InterCoastal (IC).
- Many hiding spots, Angelfish creek, etc. Safe, except from mosquitoes.
- Past Key Largo, only a handful of bridges will allow you to cross to the IC side; plan this part carefully.
- If you stick to the sea side, you'll find many opportunities to quickly find shelter on a beach or in a marina, all throughout the route. I assume you are self-sufficient to pull up a beach – some are sandy, some are boggy. It's not beaches and marinas everywhere, mind you, it takes some prep. t ActiveCaptain can be a great planning tool.
Don't have much insight on the final stretch. That part does seem rocky and dicey. Assume you cannot make land easily, wait for a favorable weather window and commit.
Once you are in Key West, beaches are pretty rocky in my experience. Not sure it'll be easy to find a spot to pull the boat out of the water comfortably.
Edited by martin_langhoff on Feb 01, 2021 - 07:23 PM.
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